Taiwan touched my Heart

Some students spend their summer enrolling in school or other recreational activities, some are travelling inside the country or abroad, some are working part time while some are just spending their time inside the house. Few only choose to be different and that is doing their AIESEC internships while having an experience that will let them grow and develop as a person who will make a positive impact in the society. Before, it’s kind of unusual for a student to do his internship abroad for the summer months but now it is possible because of AIESEC. AIESEC provides a way in order for us to learn and to discover ourselves more by having an experience that will change our outlook and perspectives in life. By realizing that even if we’re still students we can make difference in this world, we can initiate change, and revolutionize our society.  My AIESEC internship is one of my most treasured experiences in my whole life. Just like what I experienced, it changed my outlook in life by meeting different personalities outside my country, knowing other culture and language, and dealing with different situations. It let me discover my strengths and weaknesses and how to capitalize those and how to incorporate in everyday life. I will never forget this kind of opportunity which I want to spread and to tell to my friends, convincing them to go also on an exchange. I wish I could travel back the time or have an ability to slow it because I always want to relive my AIESEC experience and do what I haven’t done when I was in Taiwan.

I did my internship at Yingge Elementary School as an English Instructor. The school is in Yingge Township which is located in Taipei County nearly 45 minutes ride away from Taipei City. As an English Instructor, I have to facilitate and assist the English teachers in teaching English such as accents, tones, and correct spelling of words. I also have to train the students and even encourage them to speak English with confidence. And as a foreigner teacher, I need to introduce the Philippines, its culture and tourist attractions so that they will know more about where I came from and also to create rapport with the students.

Yingge Elementary School is such a wonderful school. It was my first time to see a school that has an extraordinary architecture which is not a typical school building. Not only the architecture impressed me but also the facilities in it which include basketball and tennis courts, a track oval, a multi-purpose hall that has a stage for theatrical productions, an arcade room where you can find a basketball arcade machine, a room specifically for pottery class, a planetarium, and a mini-auditorium where the faculty usually held their Monday meetings and academic competitions. Aside from having these facilities, each classroom has intercom for easy communication and television and a computer set which has internet access for teaching purposes. The school has thousands of students because every grade level has 12 sections and each section has an average of 30 students. I was fortunate enough to almost teach all the sections in each grade level because every week, I accompany one English teacher to all her classes. I had fun doing it because I was able to meet and personally talk to the students. I am very happy because my internship allowed me to interact and have a conversation to different personalities which for me the best thing to learn and to develop as a person.

I lived in a condominium unit 10 minutes away from the school. I was fortunate because I lived with a host family! A very kind, generous, caring, and loving family! My host father’s name is Charles and my host mother’s name is Rita. They have two kids whom I call my Taiwanese brothers; the older one is Thomas who, at that time, a Grade 3 student and the younger one is Andy who was in Grade 1. They both school at Yingge Elementary School that’s why sometimes we go to school together. I also met my host father’s extended family which includes his mother, sister, and his brother’s family. They were all nice and kind to me and I felt like I was their adopted child. Aside from having a host family, I was also taken care of the volunteer parents of the school who were like my tourist guides whenever I go to different places. They were like my extended family because of the care and love I felt. The locals are like Filipinos.  They always smile and helpful, warm and hospitable. I didn’t miss my family and friends that much because they treated me as their son! I couldn’t ask for more and I’m very grateful that I had the chance to meet them and to be pampered!

Aside from working with Taiwanese teachers, I had the chance to work with another nationality. I was with Anushiya, an exchange participant from Singapore. We were in the same school so we really bonded a lot. We were both cared and pampered by our respective host families, by the faculty, and by the volunteer parents. Most of the time, we travel together because the volunteer parents of the school were the ones who take us to various tourist attractions. They even treated us to some expensive restaurants. I also met other exchange participants who were teaching in other schools near Yingge Elementary School. Fafa and Lui, who are French and Malaysian respectively, were teaching at Jianshan Junior High School just 10 minutes  away from the school. Ee Joo, another Malaysian EP was teaching at Shilin, a city quite far from Yingge Township.

It is a fulfilling experience for me to teach students and to encourage them to speak English.  I think I did my best and exerted my full effort to push them to practice English by talking to me. Even though I just stayed there for a couple of weeks I managed to have a close relationship with them. I taught them to believe in the skills and abilities they have, to always have confidence, and not to lose hope. In another aspect of it, I also learned many things from them, from language to culture which includes playing ocarina.

I really love Taiwan. The places, the food, and most especially the people are all amazing.  I had the chance to travel around the country and see some of the most famous tourist spots the country can offer.  Each place I’ve been to is special because each has different story and moment worthy to remember.  What I actually like about their places is how they were able to preserve the relics from the past and on how they put their culture on it; the architecture and design are like reflections of their rich culture.  I’ve been to many night markets there which the country is famous for. Night markets offer cheap products and delicious food! Actually, it was my first time to eat snake because we went to Hwashi Night Market, a market famous for snake menu. Taiwan offers great cuisine. I love their vegetable curry and I’m looking forward to eat that again. I had the chance to eat the very popular stinky tofu; I must say don’t judge the food by its smell. Even if it doesn’t smell good, it tastes good! Pearl milk tea, dumplings, and tsua-bing are also some of what I can recommend to those who will go to Taiwan.

I really learned a lot from my AIESEC internship experience. Everyday was a learning process. First and foremost is the culture and the language. Taiwan has a very rich culture and the people are doing their best so that it won’t be forgotten in a fast changing world. Even though it is an industrial sovereign country, they keep their culture intact and making it known to other nationalities. I can say the major problem I encountered during my internship is the language. I had a hard time during my first week because I don’t have any idea at that time on what the people around were talking about. I was able to resolve them by asking my host father, my co-EPs, the AIESECers in TPLC and the teachers to teach me Taiwanese and Mandarin. I tried my best to learn a bit of the language in order for me to have an easy conversation with the people around me. Also, I was able to know the country’s political and economic problems by talking and asking questions to the locals, to my host family, and to the faculty in the school. I thought that they don’t have any problems on how their public officials run the government but I realized that we almost have the same sentiments and issues.

I now have an understanding of the purpose and process of leadership to a society which I always want to share to other people.  I am hoping to contribute my self-discovered knowledge which I acquired by living and adapting to Taiwanese society.

The primary reason why did I go on an AIESEC internship is because I always want to have a practical experience in the community and to practice my leadership skills and talents as a way of learning while doing the internship. I want to impart my knowledge and skills as an individual to other people and as a catalyst of development; I love to teach, to inspire and to touch people’s lives because that is what leadership means, as a relational process of people attempting to make a difference in a situation. While doing these, I also want to learn and to discover new things and culture which I can incorporate and apply in the Philippine situation.

This is a life changing experience. This is an experience that will not teach you how to do your work but on how to love your work. Internship is working but if you are going to put passion on it then you won’t feel tired and exhausted even if you’re doing it whole day. If you want to find your real you and want to feel fulfilled in what you do then this is the right place for you to do it because if someone feels fulfilled then he is achieving something inside of him which is priceless and treasurable. If you are eager to learn and to expand your skills then this is the right thing to do, be an Exchange Participant and be an AIESECer!

To my AIESEC TPLC friends, Yingge Elementary School teachers and students, and Volunteer Parents especially to my Host Family; Hsie Hsie!


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